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  Toxic Contamination
in the Great Lakes Region

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What's New
COMMENTARY: The need to be proactive on Great Lakes contaminants
Grand Haven Tribune (3/20)
Scientists are asking questions and raising new concerns about the impact of pharmaceutical products in fresh water and civic leaders around the country are just beginning to grasp the issue. In the coming years, more research will better illuminate the extent of the problem.

Mercury collection program continues in Michigan this year
Midland Daily News (3/19)
Residents and businesses of Michigan recycled 665 pounds of mercury in 2014 under the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Mercury Collection Project according to U.S. Ecology and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

State Senate passes bill to ban “microbeads,” tiny bits of plastic in soap and toothpaste
The Associated Press (3/17)
Wisconsin is joining the nationwide push to ban a key plastic exfoliant in soap, toothpaste and other personal care products out of fear it’s leading to water pollution.

Deep burial, high stakes
The London Free Press (3/9)
More than one km from Lake Huron, far underground, a burial option for Ontario’s least dangerous nuclear waste has rippled across the Great Lakes, with scores of cities opposed. A decision is looming.

Fur trade a suspect in Minnesota monument mercury contamination
Great Lakes Echo (3/3)
The Grand Portage National Monument is a former fur trading site full of conifers, wetlands and beaver dams – a history and landscape that may be behind the toxic mercury loads in the monument’s streams.

Does your shampoo or toothpaste contain microbeads? If so, it could be banned in New York
The Citizen (2/20)
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is renewing his push to prohibit the sale of cosmetic products that contain plastic microbeads.

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General Resources
Human Health and the Great Lakes
U.S. EPA Region 5 / Great Lakes Commission
Featuring information on hot topics like drinking water and fish consumption, Human Health and the Great Lakes provides complete and up-to-date information about issues of human health in the Great Lakes region. Also contains a comprehensive glossary of Great Lakes terms and several links to related online resources. Based on data taken from the EPA's Lakewide Management Plan (LaMP) studies.

TEACH Great Lakes: Water Pollution
Water pollution is defined as a change in the chemical, physical and biological health of a waterway due to a human activity: sewage disposal, toxic contamination through heavy metals and pesticides, overdevelopment of the water's edge, and more...

Water Environment Federation
WEF is a not-for-profit technical and educational organization that provides a range of materials describing today's water quality issues, including household hazardous waste, biosolids recycling, and watershed management.

Water Pollution in Canada
Environment Canada's Freshwater Web
Focuses on toxic substances in the aquatic environment, effects of pollution, and control mechanisms.

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Databases
Contaminated Sediments and the Great Lakes
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
This fact sheet explains how contaminants build up in sediment, how they affect the food chain and why the Great Lakes are susceptible.

Envirofacts
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
A relational database that integrates data from four major USEPA program systems: Permit Compliance System; Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Information System; Toxic Release Inventory System; and Resource Conservation and Recovery Information System.

Great Lakes Regional Air Toxic Emissions Inventory
Great Lakes Commission
The Great Lakes states are creating this regional database, which will establish a baseline using 1993 data on point and area source emissions of 49 toxic air pollutants identified as significant contributors to the contamination of the Great Lakes.

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Networks
EXtension TOXicology NETwork
Univ. of California, Davis, Michigan State, Oregon State and Cornell Universities
This cooperative network includes a wide range of resources related to toxicology.

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Programs and Projects
Atlas of America’s Polluted Waters
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Water
Includes state maps showing waters that do not meet state water quality standards.

Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Program
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
Designed to reduce nonpoint pollution in the Lake Superior Basin.

FoodWatch
Environmental Defence Canada
FoodWatch provides meaningful information and effective tools for making informed decisions about food safety, and act on these decisions to achieve better human and environmental health.

Fox River Watch
A project of the Clean Water Action Council of northeastern Wisconsin, this site contains extensive information for the public about PCB contamination of the Fox River and Green Bay, the proposed cleanup, and health effects of exposure to PCBs.

Great Lakes Human Health Effects Research Program
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
The ATSDR research program is designed to investigate and characterize the association between the consumption of contaminated Great Lakes fish and short- and long-term harmful health effects.

Great Lakes Mid-Atlantic Center for Hazardous Substance Research
The mission of the Center is to foster and support integrated, interdisciplinary and collaborative efforts that advance and benefit human and environmental health and well-being. Investigators from the universities join forces to tackle issues related to the development and application of bioremediation technologies for contaminated soils and groundwater.

Lake Michigan Mass Balance Study
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO)
Mass balance studies are a scientific method for evaluating the sources, transport and fate of contaminants entering a water system, and the effects of those contaminants on water quality. See also Mass Balance Public Outreach, Lake Michigan Federation.

Research in Microcontaminants & Water Quality
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant
This subprogram was developed in response to the Great Lakes problems of chemical contamination and eutrophication.

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Publications
Airborne Contaminants and the Great Lakes
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
Fact sheet explains where contaminants come from, how they are deposited and their effects.

An Advocate's Field Guide to Protecting Lake Michigan
Alliance for the Great Lakes
After two years of research by organizations around Lake Michigan, this guidebook identifies basinwide threats; it is organized into three chapters: habitat restoration, toxic elimination and land and water conservation.

Contaminated Sediments and the Great Lakes
University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute
This fact sheet explains how contaminants build up in sediment, how they affect the food chain and why the Great Lakes are susceptible.

How Did the Poison Get into the Trout?
National Wildlife Federation
In the 1980s, biologists found the banned pesticide toxaphene in the lake's trout, sediment and water.

Lake Michigan Mass Balance Study
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO)
Mass balance studies are a scientific method for evaluating the sources, transport and fate of contaminants entering a water system, and the effects of those contaminants on water quality.

Mercury Source Sector Assessment for the Greater Milwaukee Area
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO)
Developed to help set priorities for developing cooperative mercury education, technical assistance and collection programs.

Niagara River Toxics Management Plan
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO)
Since 1987, the Niagara River has been the focus of attention for four environmental agencies in the United States and Canada that are committed to reducing toxic chemical contamination.

Wisconsin Mercury SourceBook
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Great Lakes National Program Office (GLNPO)
Intended for use by anyone involved in drafting a reduction plan for mercury, including sewerage districts, community or trade associations, and government agencies.

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Related Resources
GLIN: Air Toxics in the Great Lakes Region
GLIN: Contaminated Sediments in the Great Lakes Region
GLIN: Environmental Research in the Great Lakes Region
GLIN: Great Lakes Fish Consumption Advisories
GLIN: Hazardous Materials and Spills in the Great Lakes Region
GLIN: Human Health Effects of Pollution in the Great Lakes Region
GLIN: Superfund Sites in the Great Lakes Region
GLIN: Wet Weather Pollution in the Great Lakes Region

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Updated: March 28, 2015
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